Muay thai — the national sport of Thailand — is gaining more attention in the U.S. as celebs like Gina Rodriguez and Ryan Gosling give the martial art more exposure. Even though it looks like an intense, physically demanding fighting style, muay thai is a lot more approachable than you might think.
"Your first lesson will always be different from what you see on TV or in a professional ring," says Raquel Harris, six-time muay thai champion, co-owner of Strike'ng Fitness and trainer at Hit House, New York's first boutique muay thai studio. "No one is going to give you a black eye on your first day." (Thank goodness!) She suggests starting with a beginner class that focuses on form, then talking to your coach about sparring when you're ready. Here's why you should glove up and give it a go.